Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Purple Martin Season Coming to an End

Another season of banding Purple Martins (PUMA) is quickly coming to an end. The colonies should be full of freshly fledged young and adults getting ready to head to their pre-migratory roosts.

No matter how long we do this banding and how many birds we handle, there are always things to learn. The most interesting bird this summer was a female we found on a nest at the Baker Park colony (Baker National Golf Course, Medina, MN). One of the nest boxes we took down to band had a bird that would not leave so she was easy to grab. Turned out she was already banded and when we read the band number we discovered she wasn't ours!

To make a long story short, she was banded by Tony Lau in Otsego, MN in 2013 as a nestling. We came to find out she was caught at another colony in 2015 and then this year at our site. These are the kind of things we would find out only through banding. Pretty fun to gain a bit more insight into the private lives of birds.

Interestingly, the 3 colonies in which she was found are not very far apart (20 miles?) and are almost directly north and south of each other. Apparently this bird follows the same route in the spring but doesn't go to the same colony every year.

Below are some images from our banding efforts. This wouldn't be possible without the cooperation of the Martin landlords who participate in our research efforts. A big THANK-YOU to all of those folks that welcome us to their colonies!

An unusual number of eggs in this nest. We usually see 4-6.

The easiest way to handle the young is by putting them in a container and bringing them to the banding table while the nest box gets cleaned.

They're not the prettiest babies but they grow up to be beautiful. You can't tell from this photo but their claws are really sharp. We never come away unscathed.

Parents are busy for about 3 weeks constantly feeding the chicks. As they grow, dragonflies become their main food source.

As the young get close to fledging they'll spend lots of time in the entrance hole to their nest in order to get fed first. As a growing bird it turns out greed is good.

Parents are very attentive to their chicks.

If we are lucky, this is the bird we'll see in 2 years wearing a bit of jewelry on its right leg.

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